City under siege
The city was twice besieged for over a hundred days. In 1649 the garrison held out against royalist troops during the English Civil War. Forty years later the city supported Protestant William III against Catholic James II in their struggle for the English throne. During the 105 day siege the citizens were under constant threat from cannon fire, bombs, disease and hunger. Carrying food and arms, the ships - the Mountjoy and the Phoenix - broke through the timber boom blocking the river Foyle to relieve the city.
The town's o'erjoyed, the thundering cannons roar,
The Bells do ring, and bonfires the town all o'er.
Joseph Aickin, who was present at the 1689 siege
Every year on 31st October Guildhall Square is packed with pumpkins, spooks and witches during Ireland's largest Hallowe'en carnival. Hallowe'en traces its roots to the pre-Christian fire festival of Samhain which marked the start of winter. Witches, evil spirits and the souls of the dead walked the Earth. Today a week of festivities ends with live music in the Square, a ball in the Guildhall and fireworks over the city.
Third time lucky
Named after the meeting place of the City of London Corporation, the Guildhall houses the city government. Only the clock tower of the 1890 Guildhall survived a devastating fire on Easter Sunday, 1908. The present building opened four years later, its magnificent stained glass and woodwork being largely the work of local craftsmen. Only one window remained intact when two IRA bombs within a week gutted much of the building in 1972. The Guildhall reopened within three years, its interiors restored to their original richness.
'What's happening in the Square?'
As the centre of city life Guildhall Square has witnessed celebrations, protests, revelry and riots. Thousands waited for Churchill's announcement of the end of the Second World War; people queued for the world premiere of 'Translations' by local playwright Brian Friel; crowds cheered royalty and Bill Clinton, ex-President of the USA. Local heroes were welcomed home - Dana, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 and John Hume, jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.